8 Low-Light Houseplants That Can Survive Shady Rooms

For all the plant lovers out there with north-facing windows.

All houseplants need a few key components to thrive, sunlight among the most important. Through sun exposure, plants absorb energy so they can grow, sprout, and bloom. But what if your home isn’t exactly drenched in sunlight?

Not to worry: Every houseplant has different needs, and some can grow (and even thrive!) in low-light conditions—or spaces with virtually no natural light at all. Below, find eight houseplants to grow in shady rooms, according to experts.


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What is considered low light for plants?

It’s important to note that all plants need some form of light—and a pitch-dark basement is very different from, say, a shady living room. In low-light conditions, a plant is at least a few feet away from a window that doesn’t get direct sunlight during the day, or perhaps there’s no natural light at all in the room. While some plants tolerate and even grow under low-light conditions, keep in mind they’ll probably grow slower than if exposed to more light.

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Fernwood Mikado

fernwood mikado plant

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A smaller version of the popular snake plant, the fernwood mikado is part of the dracaena genus, which is known to thrive on neglect, says Puneet Sabharwal, CEO and cofounder of the houseplant subscription service Horti and author of Happy Plant: A Beginner’s Guide to Cultivating Healthy Plant Care Habits.

While these plants can grow quickly in brighter conditions, they can easily adapt to low-light conditions (just like the snake plant). Keep your fernwood mikado on the dry side, as it has large root balls that store water for drought conditions, says Sabharwal.

02 of 08

Peperomia Green

peperomia green baby rubber plant

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Peperomia obtusifolia, or the baby rubber plant, is a versatile plant from the pepper family. These cuties enjoy bright, indirect light, but Sabharwal says they can also live in a space with low, indirect light. (Either way, steer clear from direct sunlight, which will quickly parch a peperomia.)

Another bonus? “These plants have semi-succulent properties, which means that they are able to store moisture in their fleshy stems or leaves to fall back on when needed,” says Sabharwal.

03 of 08

Silver Philodendron

silver philodendron


Don’t let the luxurious-looking, velvety leaves fool you. The silver philodendron—also known as a satin pothos—is fairly low maintenance, says Lisa Eldred Steinkopf, author of Houseplants: The Complete Guide to Choosing, Growing, and Caring for Indoor Plants. These vining beauties can survive in shady rooms without direct light, and they can wait for water until their topsoil is totally dry.

04 of 08

Arrowhead Vine

arrowhead vine

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The arrowhead vine, which grows long stems as it ages, loves partial shade conditions. “If you can find the green variety, it can take a low light and will do well in a north window or in the interior of a room, near a window,” says Steinkopf.

Because it has thinner leaves, the arrowhead needs to be kept evenly moist, and it doesn’t like dry conditions. Try setting yours on a pebble tray for natural humidity.

05 of 08

Bird’s Nest Fern

Bird's Nest Fern
The Sill

Ferns, in general, can tolerate low light situations. “Mine are all in an east window or back a few feet from one,” Steinkopf says. Bird’s nest ferns are a good choice for shady spots, as well as any of the footed ferns, such as rabbit’s foot fern.

Ferns have a reputation for being tough to grow, but as long as they’re kept moist, Steinkopf says they make great houseplants. Put them on pebble trays for added humidity, and be sure to water before the soil feels bone dry.

06 of 08

Neon Pothos

neon pothos plant

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Unlike other pothos varieties, the neon pothos won’t tolerate any direct sunlight, says Breanna Sherlock, the in-house plant expert for the Planta App. “They add a pop of color to any plant display, and their neon green leaves often show spots of dark green variegation. Plus, they won’t grow too large or too fast.

Allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings, as the neon pothos is especially prone to root rot (especially if it’s not getting loads of sunlight).

07 of 08

Grape Ivy

grape ivy plant

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Named for its resemblance to a grapevine, the grape ivy (also called oak leaf ivy) is an easy-to-grow houseplant that can tolerate low-light conditions.

Ivy plants don’t like to dry out, so Steinkopf recommends keeping yours evenly moist at all times. If it’s watered frequently enough, your grape ivy can grow quickly. Try training one on a trellis or obelisk to make a vertical statement in your home.

08 of 08


calathea plant

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Calatheas can tolerate low-light conditions, Steinkopf says, and their beautiful foliage is an added bonus. The catch? These patterned plants can be a bit finicky.

They prefer to be watered with something other than fluoridated tap water, so Steinkopf suggests using bottled water instead to prevent brown tips, edges, and spots. Calathea like to be kept moist, and they also prefer an elevated humidity level, so they’re perfect for a shady kitchen or bathroom. “The extra care is worth it as these are beautiful plants,” says Steinkopf.

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